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Since I have many clients, students, and friends who have big events, including NFL cheerleader auditions and Bikini Nirvana, coming up, I thought I would write a post explaining my prep work for competitions and photo shoots. I am unconventional when it comes to fitness competitors. I designed my own pre-contest diet, which I based off of my research during my master’s program at Georgia State…and it works for me. Since my methods are a little less intense than other competitors, they are perfect for women who are just wanting to lose that last little bit of bloat before a big event. The tips that follow are for women who are already in fairly good shape and just need a little tweak to get ready for their big day. I am currently two weeks out from a photo shoot, so I am in the middle of this regimen myself.
3 months out from your big day
- Cut out all alcohol. This includes beer, wine, hard liquor, wine coolers, Zima, shots, martinis, any and all things containing alcohol. No exceptions. Alcohol contains unnecessary calories and is metabolized (turned into) to fat within your body (beer belly much?) Since some of you are only a few weeks out, you need to cut the alcohol NOW, no exceptions. You can do it!
- Soda must also be cut at this time, diet and no calorie sodas included. No sodas whatsoever!
1 month out
- Sweets must go! Cut out all refined sugars, cookies, cakes, ice cream, pie, sweetened coffee beverages, etc, etc, etc. No cheat days for this, sugar must go.
Most of the following tips should be followed year round, but you need to be very disciplined with them in the month leading up to your big event:
- Do not skip ANY meals! You want to make sure you’re eating every 2 1/2 to 3 hours. It is better to eat something, than to skip a meal entirely.
- Eat breakfast! This should be done within 20 minutes of waking up. If you are not a breakfast eater, now is not the time to throw down on eggs, bacon, and hash brown breakfasts. Try having a small glass of juice or milk, whatever you can handle, and work your way up to a more solid meal, like cereal. The key here is to BREAK your FAST, hence the name breakfast:)
- Eat a butt load of veggies. Have veggies whenever possible
- Have some protein at every meal. Take your weight, divide by 2, and that gives you the amount of protein, in grams, that you should be consuming per day. Don’t forget that protein is found in more than just meat.
- Drink water consistently throughout the day. Carry a bottle (or jug, like I do) with you everywhere you go. While chugging a bunch of water in spurts here and there is better than nothing, it is more beneficial to consistently hydrate yourself in moderation throughout the day.
- Choose complex carbs like brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, farro or whole grains at meals. Skip the simple carbs like white breads, pastas, and rice.
- Go easy on the evening carbs. Your evening meal should consist of a lean meat or protein (chicken, fish, tofu) and lots of colorful non starchy veggies (spinach, beets, peppers, squash, zucchini, kale, etc). I, myself, like having a big salad at dinner with my protein.
- No cheat days. Since you aren’t really depleting that much, there is no need for you to have a cheat day. It’s only one month, and whatever you are working towards will be worth it!
- Get active! Try to get in at least 3 days of resistance training per week, these should be total body workouts. If you are able to commit more days to resistance training, you can break up your workouts into different body parts (e.g. back and biceps, chest and triceps, legs, shoulders and abs). Don’t forget about cardio! I’m not talking about hop on the treadmill and jogging for 30 minutes. I’m talking about get your heart pumping cardio! A 4 minute Tabata (shown in the video below) would be more beneficial for what you are trying to accomplish than a 30 minute jog. (You can do this Tabata using different exercises such as jump squats, burpees, jumping jacks, push ups, etc up to 4 times, but take a 3-4 minute rest in between each round.) Try this free online Tabata clock
- Get some sleep! Some studies have shown that people who sleep less, tend to gain more weight. Plus, dark circles and bags are really hard to cover up.
- STAY OFF THE SCALE! Weight is not important, it’s how you look and feel. Obsessing will only make you crazy, and will do more harm than good (both mentally and physically). Remember, no matter what you’re preparing for (whether it’s auditions or a competition), it should be a fun experience! When you start freaking out, ask yourself this one question, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Answer: You don’t make the team or you don’t place. In the grand scheme of things, who cares? The earth will still be spinning tomorrow. So enjoy this time of preparation and leave the worrying for bills or something boring like that.
Some of the aforementioned tips might be a bit much for you, but remember this, there is always at least one other woman who is making one more sacrifice than you and that woman may very well be the one who edges you out by mere points. Accomplishment takes making sacrifices. For some of you, that might be skipping a night out with your friends, or missing out on a slice of cake at a friend’s party. Whatever your sacrifice may be, remember that it will be worth it once you have achieved your goal. I’m only asking you to be strict for a month, and I’m asking nicely!
To keep yourself motivated, hang up something that will remind you daily of your finish line. It can be your audition outfit, a picture of the team that you’re auditioning for, your competition bikini, or a picture of a previous winner. But remember, this is just to keep you motivated not to make you feel bad about yourself!